If you didn’t know, yesterday was the first the day of Camp Nanowrimo, the spring version of the National Novel Writing Month challenge. If you haven’t started the challenge yet, don’t worry! It’s never too late to start- as long as April isn’t over when you read this, of course.
Without Nanowrimo, I would probably have never written a full novel. Last year I wrote a 60,000-word book during Camp Nano, and it gave me the encouragement I needed to pursue a more intense writing hobby.
You can see my Camp Nanowrimo profile HERE.
Now, I thought I’d give you all a sneak peek of my new novel (I’m writing it during Camp Nano, and my word goal is 40,000), Ollie. It’s a YA Romance, which I don’t really have much experience writing so I’d appreciate your feedback!
Here are the first two chapters (it goes between the point of views of two main characters, a boy named Quentin and a girl named Blair). Enjoy!
Some people say that the day I met Blair Kennedy was the day that I veered off the road of perfection. I’ve learned to separate people into two classes. The ones who see people for who they are, and the ones who see them for everything that they are not. My family and most of my friends fall into category number two, as do most of the people I’ve met during my seventeen years on this earth. Those of the former category are the hardest to find nowadays. I like to believe that I’m one of them, but it’s hard to accurately judge oneself, so I’m not entirely sure.
One thing I am sure of is this: The day I first laid eyes on Blair, I wasn’t looking at the worm sneakers and messy hair, as my parents would have been. I was looking at the way she carried herself, like she didn’t care whether she was in a crowd of people or by herself. She seemed so comfortable in her own skin.
It was seeing her that made me doubt my own confidence. Because in comparison, I might as well have hung my head and sat in a shadow. Blair lifted her chin high and pushed through the crowd, her dark brown eyes raging wildfires that burned bright for all the world to see.
I was walking home with my friends from Roxbury Latin, the all-boys private school I’ve been attending since seventh grade. The school’s only a seven minute walk from my house, where the four of us planned on hanging out for a while. We usually headed over to Parker’s after school as he had the biggest yard for practicing lacrosse, but his parents were hosting an important meeting and we had to change plans.
“Why is Fatum Square always so crowded?” Alden scowled as we joined the sea of people. Out of the four of us, Alden was the least fond of other people, and the most fond of complaining.
Parker laughed. “Doesn’t its name answer that question? It’s the town square, Al.”
“Yes, well.” Alden straightened up a bit, his face reddening. “That doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
“We all know you’re haphephobic,” Gage said with a smile.
I let out a small chuckle. “Leave the poor guy alone, you two. After all,” my eyes darted toward Alden, “He also has ego-anxiety.”
“Oh, quiet,” Alden muttered, but his lips twitched into a half-smile.
We pushed through the crowd toward Gordon Street, four teenage boys dressed in our expensive school uniforms that strangers always seemed to do double-takes of. I can imagine what we looked like; spoiled kids with wealthy families who could afford to send their sons to a school with a tuition of thirty grand, even after bills and living expenses were paid. I never really thought of it this way, not back then.
The world has a way of throwing seemingly small events together to change the course of your life. It isn’t only a change of lifestyle, but of ideas and virtues. If I hadn’t seen her, I might have grown up the way my parents did. Putting my career above everything else. Teaching my children to do the same. Looking down on those who thought differently than I did.
But I did see her.
In one glance, my life swerved completely off-course. In one glance, I forgot about the whole world. I forgot that I was standing in a crowd full of people, and that it wasn’t just Blair. Forgot that it hadn’t always been just Blair.
I think that it was the hair that caught my eye at first, jet black with purple tips. She had it parted on one side and rolled into Princess Leia-style buns. She stood on a curb surveying the crowded area, her dark eyes thoughtful.
I would have turned away right then. I mean, Blair was beautiful, but even that wouldn’t have given me a reason to keep watching her.
When she seemed to fall forward into the crowd, though, I couldn’t look away. I scanned the area, panic flooding through me. At first I was sure she’d tripped, and I was considering trying to find her so I could help her up.
People began scrambling apart and crying out in surprise, and I struggled to see what was going on. It wasn’t until a few moments later that I realized what was happening; Blair had dropped down onto her skateboard and was riding through the crowd. They made a clear path for her, jumping out of her way and throwing enraged words in her direction.
Alden was one of them, calling, “You’re not the only person in the world, freak! There’s a place for people like you. They call it prison.”
Blair looked over her shoulder, and stepped down on the back of her board hard. She grabbed hold of the front as it lifted sharply into the air, and stood staring at Alden with a small smile on her lips.
“Oh yeah? And who’s gonna bring me there? You?”
Alden raised his chin. “My dad’s a lawyer.”
Blair’s eyed flickered with amusement. “What a surprise.” She looked him up and down, a smirk still intact. “Well then, run home to Daddy, pretty boy.”
She turned and dropped back onto the board, and Alden’s mouth fell open. “What did she just call me?”
“Let it go, Al,” Gage said quietly.
Parker grinned. “That girl just roasted you, man.”
Alden made an indignant sound in the back of his throat, and stood up straighter. “Well, not that it matters. It’s not as if a…” he struggled to find a word, “Street rat like her could ever offend me. No one takes people like that seriously.”
“Well that’s good,” Parker replied with mock sincerity. “Wouldn’t want anyone to take it too seriously.”
“Let’s go, guys,” Gage urged, a smile in his voice.
“Yeah. I can’t stand crowds like this,” Alden said, and they started off.
I told myself to follow them, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of the skater girl who had so fearlessly made her way through the crowd and stood up to Alden; most strangers wouldn’t even meet his eyes.
“Come on, Quentin,” Parker said when he realized I wasn’t moving. “What are you looking at?”
I blinked. “Nothing. Just zoned out is all.”
“Well, hurry up. I think Alden just might explode.”
I laughed and hurried after my friends, trying to put the girl out of mind. It didn’t take long to discover that it would be a hard feat to accomplish.
What an idiot. Does he really think that wearing a fancy uniform and gelling every strand of hair on his head makes him supreme ruler of mankind?
I was still laughing at the pathetic ‘my dad’s a lawyer’ comment when I got home, leaning my board against the wall just inside the door and starting off to find Mom.
She was sitting in the kitchen reading a magazine when I came in, so I took a seat across from her.
“Blair,” she said without looking up. It wasn’t an invitation to conversate, but an acknowledgment that I’d entered the room.
“I’ll be heading off to work in a bit, Mom,” I said hesitantly. “Do you want me to bring something home for dinner after my shift?”
Mom looked up at me now, her eyebrows furrowed. “Work? You don’t go to work, Blair.”
I bit my lip and forced away the tears that I’d so often needed to press down. “I do, Mom. I’m a waitress at The Dogwood, remember? The little restaurant down the road? I’ve worked there for months,” I added, but I knew she wouldn’t remember.
Bewilderment passed over Mom’s face. “You can’t have. You aren’t old enough to be a waitress. Why do you always try to grow up so fast? You’ve always been…” she trailed off and narrowed her eyes, having forgotten whatever it was that she was talking about.
“I’m almost seventeen, Mom,” I whispered, taking her hand across the table.
“Don’t be silly, I know how old my own daughter is,” Mom said doubtfully.
My eyes flashed to the clock on the oven, and I sighed. “I’ll be back in a few hours. I’ll bring something home for dinner, okay?” I stood up and pressed a kiss to Mom’s forehead. “I love you.”
She picked up her magazine again, so I turned and started toward the kitchen door. When I turned to glance at her over my shoulder, a weight dropped in my stomach.
She was reading the magazine upside down.
I changed swiftly into my uniform and grabbed my skateboard, calling an unanswered, “I’m heading out!” before swinging open the front door and racing out.
As much as I love my Mom, it was nice to be out of the house. It was always so hard seeing her that way. I remembered all of the things we used to do when I was a kid, before we found out she was sick. Before Dad left.
I swallowed the painful memories and dropped my board onto the sidewalk, planting my left foot onto the surface and pumping with my right. It was so natural after all these years, so without conscious effort. I think that’s what’s so peaceful about skateboarding; it’s like letting the ground take you for a ride.
It was early April, and there was a cool breeze that began to loosen the pins in my hair. I reached up and pulled them out one by one as I coasted the sidewalk, before shoving them into my pocket so my hair fell loosely around my shoulders.
When I reached The Dogwood I picked up my skateboard and pushed through the door with my back, before whirling around and heading to the kitchen.
“Hey, Blair,” Sawyer greeted in the gruff voice he always used when he had a lot to do.
I saluted. “Hiya, boss. The place is full today, huh?”
Sawyer nodded. “It’s been busy all week. Which means it’s all hands on deck,” he added, giving me a pointed look.
I faked a look of exasperation, but ended up grinning anyway. The Dogwood was my second home, and the employees my second family. Sawyer always felt sort of like a dad to me, but he had his own kids, all of which are far younger and sweeter than I am.
“We need two adult and two kid menus at table three,” Margaret announced as she strode into the room.
“Got it,” I said hurriedly. The heat that radiated from the pizza ovens were beginning to make me sweat. I adjusted my name tag and hurried out of the sweltering kitchen with the menus in hand. A middle-aged couple sat talking at table three, with a toddler sitting in a high chair and a preschool-age girl beside the woman.
“Hi, my name’s Blair and I’ll be serving you today,” I said, putting on my brightest smile.
To these people, I was just a waitress at a restaurant. Just a girl with colored hair that they probably disapproved of. A girl who probably went to school like everybody else her age.
It’s strange to think that I- this person with dreams and thoughts and emotions- can be just a stranger to someone. A person who they won’t think about a year from now, or even a few hours from now. While I see my face every time I look in the mirror and I know I’m seeing myself, they see the face of a stranger.
They couldn’t have guessed that my dad left my mom and I when I was the age of their youngest child. They couldn’t have guessed that I dropped out of school last year to take on the burden of being the sole provider in our family when we found out my Mom had a brain tumor.
They couldn’t have guessed that a few hours before I served them, I’d seen the person who I would give my heart to.
But then, I couldn’t have guessed that either.