Dec 1, 2009

Sample Pages - IN THE CLOUDS - Revisions 1

Click here to read the query.

I'm a fifteen year-old girl being followed everywhere by a forty-year old Algebra teacher. Sounds creepy, right? But not insane. At least that's the line I've been feeding myself over and over since last ight. I'm not crazy. Despite the fact that I can't stop glancing over my shoulder- checking if he's still there. It's like I have Tourette's or something.

But I have a real good excuse. Even better than teenage-girl-being-stalked-by-middle-age-male-teacher. The man walking two steps behind me right now, died yesterday morning. It fact, I witnessed his death.

And Mr. Schuster and I aren't exactly BFF's. He hates me. Or hated me. Not sure which to use. That's right, Alan Schuster is dead. He croaked. Bit the bullet. And yet I don't find any pleasure in his absence. BECAUSE HE'S STILL HERE! Only I can see him.

I must be special or cursed. I promise I'm not normally this insensitive. I even cried yesterday, but the guy is driving me nuts. He won't shut up. What does a girl like me do when her dead teacher is tailing her and giving long lectures on why she should shut off the TV and get some homework done? As if that were possible in my current mental state (aka – completely freaked!).

Here's what I did. I walked to school this morning and headed straight to the guidance counselor's office, where sanity has some kind of tangible measurement. In other words, he can tell me if I'm nuts. It was the only plan I could come up with after zero hours sleep and
several minutes spent googling the phrase, I see dead people.

The second I entered the school building, I turned and headed up the empty staircase leading to the third floor. I hadn't ever talked to Dr. Cooper, but I'd seen him in the halls and knew where his office was.

"What exactly are you trying to accomplish?" Schuster asked in that sneering tone of his.

The sound made the already churning acid in my stomach move like the washer's spin cycle. This was much worse than our usual bonding time of forty-five minutes a day. It was twenty-four seven with that teacher. You know the one I'm talking about. Mine has geeky black
glasses, blonde hair combed to the side like a preschooler on the first day, he's about six foot four and a scowl is permanently embedded to his face. It travels all the way to his eyes.

Everybody who's been to high school can name the teacher they dreaded most. The one that caused them to slide down in their chair as low as possible praying they could go one day without being noticed. Now imagine taking that teacher home with you, and everywhere else.

After only twelve hours, I was nearly ready to check myself in to the psyche ward. Instead of heading to the nearest ER I opened my mouth. Not usually a good thing given my tendency to speak, then think. Normally, the outbursts of profanities were directed at rude boys in
gym class, never a teacher.

"Can't you just shut-up for five minutes?" I snapped. "It's bad enough I had to listen to you all night. I haven't slept more than a few hours in two days."

I couldn't look at him, but I'm sure his face had that twisted, angry, purple look to it.

Well, maybe not purple anymore.

I shook my head trying to focus on sanity. I needed sanity to get my questions answered. Otherwise who knows where I might end up? I knocked on the door of room 312 then I saw the note next to the door.

"In Meetings this morning. Will return after 10:00am."

My panic level rose quickly. This had been my only plan and nothing was solved. Going to class like everything was normal and ghosts weren't talking to me seemed like an impossible task. I headed quickly down the steps and crawled underneath the stair case on the second floor before the halls became too crowded. Before anyone saw me. It was my favorite hiding place and I couldn't go home to my big empty house with Schuster in tow. It was less eerie being surrounded
by people, even in hiding at least I knew they were there.

"Cutting class is against school policy," Schuster ranted on. His giant feet paced back and forth in front of the staircase. "You would never listen to a teacher would you Miss Rollings? Of course not. With that thick skull of yours I'm surprised you can make it through an entire school day without a handful of detentions."

I couldn't.

Maybe this was my punishment for being such an academic loser. The past two days my life had taken a small turn for the positive. I got a taste of success, but it was wrong to claim honesty when several incidents of lying and cheating were involved. Maybe it was karma.

Was this really what I deserved? Watching a man die right in front of my eyes, and being condemned to have that man's voice ringing in my ears.

I was there when it happened, the only one in the room. I shouldn't have been there. If I just let things go like usual and not allowed Matt to help, I wouldn't have been there that morning. Three days ago I dreaded walking in to this school building and facing Schuster alive, but now I would take that day over this one in a heartbeat. Everything started Monday morning. The root of my bad Karma.


Victoria Dixon said...

There are a few moments in this that felt off kilter, but I enjoyed your voice so much I really couldn't stop to nitpick. Now I have to go back through, so THANKS. LOL
1. This paragraph: The second I entered the school building, I turned and headed up the empty staircase leading to the third floor. I hadn't ever talked to Dr. Cooper, but I'd seen him in the halls and knew where his office was.
a. Why is the staircase empty? Even during classes, highschool hallways are rarely completely empty. Also, "I entered the school building, I turned and headed up the..." all sounds mechanical and not in keeping with your voice so far. How does she take the stairs? Two at a time, hoping no one will see her? Does she climb them feeling gravity pushing her back down?
2. Allowed Matt to help was a little too vague for me. Help with what? With the lying and the cheating or something hitherto unnamed?

This really struck me in comparison to last time. Well done.

Joshua McCune said...

Julie, I agree w/ Victoria -- nice voice and nice pacing. Nothing really tripped me up. Nice job.

KA said...

Loved it. I think the voice totally works. My only criticism is just nitpicky little spelling issues you'd need to correct before submitting. I think you've got a great high-concept idea. I want to read more.

Julie said...

Victoria -

thanks for the great feedback. She's arriving at school very early and using a less popular entrance but I should just say that.

Your number 2 suggestion is laid out in detail in the next 40 pages. The day when things began to change drastically. I was sort-of trying for a mysterious hook for the next chapter but maybe just a one liner with a tiny hint would be better?

Bane and Kayla - thanks so much for reading!