NaNoWriMo is going pretty well this year. I’m as surprised as anybody. The first year I did it, I was literally typing until my 11:59 pm deadline on November 30th. The second year I think I finished a couple of hours early on November 30. The third year I finished 2 days early, November 28! Yay me! My third year, I could not even remember my name, let alone think and write it down. It was an utter failure. I don’t think I even hit 5K. Last year, I got up to 12K and never looked at it again. I felt bad, but I felt like there is always next year. But I had a good excuse. My youngest was only 3 months old.
So here it is my 5th year and I’m ahead! Based on my numbers, the site estimates that I can finish by November 23rd. Of course I’d like to finish before then because I have a lot of family coming this year. Now, not one of my Nanowrimo novels have seen the light of day…YET! I’m always positive they will crawl their way out of my flash drive and hunt me down demanding I edit them and release them into the world. We’ll see if they’ll catch me. 🙂
Well, here is the first part of my 2011 Nanowrimo novel. I have 20,200 words so far. Don’t worry, this part is NOT 20,200 words. Please excuse typos, grammar, and if it totally makes no sense. It’s a first draft and that is what nanowrimo is: getting that first draft out. Enjoy!
WHICH DAD (working title)
Most parents go to counseling or even, if necessary, get a divorce. My mom bought a cauldron. And yes, that does mean what you think it does.
I was a late year kid so I turned fifteen at the beginning of my eighth grade year. So everyone was trying to be my friend; I could legally get my learner’s permit in October. Freshman year in high school was going to be sweet. Or so I thought.
The summer was boring. We spent almost all of June at my grandma’s house in Mississippi. There is nothing in Missisiippi. Granddad did let me practice driving his truck, which was cool until mom found out and insisted I was too young. Great huh?
So we, me and my sister Jean (after Jean Grey from Xmen. Yeah it was pretty cool to have a mom who liked Xmen as much as me), got back from the Delta to find that mom was acting strange and dad was working a lot. I mean dad usually works hard, at the office (he works for the county), in the yard (he especially works me hard outside, we always get yard of the month), at the restaurant (we own a Sonic. Mom loves fresh fruit slushies). He was also going to school part time. He was studying to be a chef. Yes, my dad cooks. But he is so good that when he does get his own restarant instead of a franchise, we will have all the famous people coming. So it is not too embarrassing that my dad cooks.
But I got off the subject. Dad was working more than usual. He was actually getting everything in place to purchase his restaurant. Cool, right? More reasons to be cool with me, right? I will have my license and a cool place to hang out and not have to pay for food. High school was going to be great!
But then there was mom. She had not found herself yet. She had been a photographer, a real estate agent, camera operator for our local public tv station, a telemarketer, and that was just in the last two and a half years. While we were away for the summer, mom thought she wanted to be a dog groomer. But when we got home, she was not grooming anything. No even herself. Jean noticed right away.
“mom’s acting strange,” Jean stated the obvious. But I played along.
“Why do you say that?” I asked as I dragged her suitcase into her room. It was still pink. Jean was only eleven so I guess she still thought it was cool to have pink on her walls. I got rid of the “sunshine” yellow on my walls as soon as I could talk. I think mom was a house painter at the time Jean was born.
“She is not doing anything.” Jean answered, setting her sleeping bag neatly on her shelf. Yeah, she was that type of little sister. Everything had to be perfect.
“So.” I turned to head out of her room and went back down the hall to get my own suitcase.
“Mom is always doing something and she looks like she has not combed her hair all week.” Jean followed me down the hall.
“Not everyone has a salon day everyday like you.” I immediately regretted saying that. I have probably spent too much time with my mom and sister. I should not know what a salon day is. Mom assured me that my future wife would appreciate me knowing. Wife? I hope she would not be asking me for grandkids as soon as I was out the house. Mom loves kids. So that was another reason everyone wanted to be my friend. My mom would let you put sugar on your frosted cereal.
“I know everybody is not as conscious as me,” Jean said, forgetting to tease me about the salon day comment. “But mom at least irons her clothes and puts on a scarf if she has not combed her hair.”
I was half listening as I picked up my suitcase and duffle bag and lugged them to just inside the door.
“She was probably taking a break from all that stuff you make her do. Now scat.” I closed the door in her face. When my bags were still packed and standing inside my door for over a week without mom saying anything to me, I knew something was wrong.
School started a couple weeks later. I had homeroom, English, chemistry, P.E., geography, algebra, and since I was in band (I played the trombone) I had it as the last class of the day. I knew most of the kids in my classes from the year before so lunch was just a catching up session outside on the benches with a soda and granola bar. Dad had packed me and Jean’s lunches, but if it was not a sandwich, I was not bringing it. Dad always liked to pack some gourmet meal leftovers from the day before. But even Dad had forgotten lunch. He was already gone by the time me and Jean got up for school. Mom had made sure we were up and that was it. She had gone into her office and shut the door. Jean had knocked on the door to tell her we were leaving and she said she had to knock three times before Mom answered. We caught the bus to school.
“Hey, Xavier!” (Yes, after Professor X). It was my running buddy from last year, Barney, who clapped me on the back as he slid onto the top of the picnic table next to me at lunch. Barney was cool. He played the trumpet next to me in band last year.
“Hey, man. How as your summer?” I asked as we watched two girls we knew from last year wave at us as they walked by. Barney raised his hand and smiled.
“Band camp, remember? You should have come, man.” He said laughing. “All we did was swim the whole summer and have bon fires.”
“Ah, man. I wish I could have went,” I grouched.
“What did you do?” he asked, still watching the girls who had sat down on a nearby bench.
“Watched grass grow.” I answered, mad.
The rest of the first day of school went fast and so did band practice. Mom picked me up at five-thirty.
“How was school?” She asked automatically after I had closed the passenger door.
“Fine,” I said noncommittally.
“Good.” She said. She seemed a little distracted. I looked in the backseat.
“Where is Jean?” I asked. Jean had just started my old junior high school and she had not joined any after school programs. I knew because she had been obsessing over what to join since we got back from Mississiipi.
“At Tenjiya’s house.” Mom said absently. She steered the car onto the parkway away from our house.
“Where are we going?” I asked looking out the window as we passed a bunch of stores.
“I’m looking for…” her voice trailed off as she slowed the car, looking at the street signs. She sped up again, passing it. Then she slammed on the breaks. Good thing she had scarred me for life with horror stories of people who did not wear seatbelts. Mine cut into my guts as I lurched forward.
“There it is.” Mom careened around the next corner onto a side street.
“Dang, Mom!” I shouted.
“Sorry.” She said, but her mind was focused on the building numbers. We had gone only a few blocks on Avondale, when she pulled the car into a parking lot next to a group of three-story building. It looked new and shiny. I think we had passed by here before, but I did not know what was in the buildings. She parked the car and turned off the engine.
“I need you to carry something for me, Xavier.” She unbuckled her seatbelt and opened her door. She grabbed her wallet and slammed the door as she looked toward one of the building. I got out the car and closed my door as well. I walked over to where mom stood. She just stood there staring at the black brick and glass building. Across the top in huge illuminated words were: Stout University. It was not Dad’s school. He went to school downtown on Thursdays. Today was Wednesday.
I stood next to Mom and waited. I was almost as tall as her now at 5 foot 4 inches. But she still had me by two inches. Yeah, Mom was taller than average. Dad was 6 feet tall, so I had a pretty good chance of running hurdles this year as well as band. But I would probably have to wait until I got my license. I doubt Mom would want to take me to meets and band all week. I had not asked her yet, though. I knew Dad could not do it, he had no time. So I was dependent on Mom for now.
“Mom?” I asked after about five minutes.
“Yeah. OK. Um, don’t judge OK?” She said and walked toward the building farthest from us. It was identical to the Stout University building without the huge sign.
I had learned to just go with it with Mom and her new-career-every-weekend lifestyle. At first I thought she was going to go back to school too. But as we went through the glass doors of the opposite building, I wondered.
She walked right over to Suite one hundred and pulled the heavy reddish oak looking door open. I glanced at the plaque on the door as we went in. Find It Here. It sounded like a place Mom would go to, constantly looking for that thing she was meant to do. Because Mom was good at everything. But apparently not everything was what she liked to do.
The front of the suite looked like a dentist office waiting room. There were plenty of padded chairs and a couple of tables loaded with magazines of all types.
“Wait here,” Mom instructed and went up to the desk that was attached to the wall off to the right. There was a girl sitting behind the desk. She was in my geography class. I know because it is my least favorite subject so I spent the whole period looking around. I could not remember her name. But I remembered her hair. It was all crinkly and thick like crinkle fries. Except it was brown. In the pot light shining down on her, her hair looked like it had sand in it. You know after you have been at the beach all day and your hair starts to look lighter. That is how hers looked. And it really stood out next to her dark reddish colored skin. Not like tomato red but brown with red like the door we had come in.
“Hello,” the girl said as Mom walked up to the desk. The girl glanced at me and then focused on my mom.
“I’m looking for a…cauldron.” My mom told the girl quietly. But not quiet enough that I did not hear. I heard it and immediately hid behind the MAD magazine I had picked up. Maybe the girl did recognize me. My second day in high school was suddenly going to suck.
“What type are you looking for?” the girl asked instead of laughing out right. I froze behind my magazine. They actually sold cauldrons in this store?
“I am not sure,” I heard Mom answer.
“Well, I’m sure Mrs. Dell can help.”
When I peaked over my magazine a second letter, Mom and the girl were gone. I relaxed a little and stood up. I intended to wait in the car and hope the girl from geography did not remember me tomorrow in class. But then I remembered that Mom needed help and I realized it was to carry a cauldron. What was her new career going to be? Witch? I tried to laugh it off, but I would not put it past my mom to decide on witchcraft as a career choice. As hard as it was to believe, I would have preferred going to the pharmacy and picking up some test tubes and microscopes and stuff like that so that she could isolate and control a mutant gene like Beast in Xmen. I probably could be proud of that. It was science after all. But cauldrons? Next she will be down at the farmer’s market looking for eye of newt. How ironic that I was really close.
“Into witches and wizards, huh?”
I jumped slightly at the sound of the girl’s voice, but I covered it pretty well by slamming down the magazine on the coffee table.
“Um, no. Xmen.” I said dumbly.
“Oh. Well, your mom?” she paused. I nodded sadly. “Your mom is a novice. She might want to take some online classes before she starts conjuring anything.” The girl smiles. There were online classes to learn how to be a witch? I wondered if she was being nice, truthful or messing with me. I did not know so I just nodded.
“You are in one of my classes this year, right?” she asked conversationally, thankfully changing the subject even though I did not want to be reminded of how embarrassed I was going to be tomorrow.
“Geography.” I answer quietly.
“Not my best subject,” she admitted.
“Mine either.” I answered as she sat down behind the desk again. She must have come from the hallway behind the desk. I could see pastel paintings lining the wall as far back as I could see. It must have really been a dentist’s office before Find It Here took over.
“Xavier!” I heard my mom yell from the back.
“I’ll take you back,” The girl stood and waited until I came around the corner of the desk. She was only a hair shorter than me. I was beginning to think that I was not as tall as I thought when she stepped off the platform the desk was sitting on and lead the way to the hallway. She at least only came up to my nose.
The hallway was covered in serene watercolor paintings of the beach and gardens. Then it opened into a larger area like a medium-sized store room. Pot lights shine down on different objects in the room like at an exhibit in the museum. Or more accurately like Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museum. I didn’t get to get a good look, though.
“Here, Xavier. Take this to the car.” My mom pointed to a medium-sized black pot resting on the floor in the far left corner. “Use your knees when you lift.”
“Hi,” I said to the person standing next to Mom. I was sure the girl said it was a Mrs. Dell. I was not so sure it was not a Mr. Dell. The person only nodded to me so I could not tell by the voice.
I walked over to Mom and hoped the cast iron looking pot was not as heavy as it looked. I hoped that girl with the crinkle fries hair was not watching me, but she was. I got a good grip on the pot, locking my arms tightly around it as I rocked backward slightly to test the weight. Why did she not just ask Dad to come get this with her? It was heavy but I managed to get that stupid thing off the floor.
“I will pay for it while you take it back to the car.” She dangled the keys at me. This is something she could have given me before I picked up this heavy-for-no-reason pot.
“I will help,” the girl took the keys from Mom and led the way back through the hallway and held the doors for me while I struggled with the pot, trying not to pant like a mountain lion after the chase as we headed toward Mom’s car.
“Which one?” the girl asked.
“Gold,” I managed to say. “Open the back.”
She walked quickly over to the back and popped the trunk hatch. Mom’s car was actually a luxury SUV at one time which did not look so luxurious now. It was older than me and had minute rips all on the leather seats. But Mom just covered them with seat covers, tan with lady bugs on them. I vowed that if I ever got to drive this thing, I would rip those covers off and drive with the rips rather than the bugs.
It took a colossal effort with a lot of grunting to get the pot just the two inches higher it needed to go into the trunk. My arms were sore already from the effort instead of the delayed soreness from a good workout in our basement gym.
“Thanks,” I breathed hard for a minute, not caring if the girl was standing there staring at me. Leaning heavily against the bumper of the car and almost gasping for air, I wanted to go “What?!” but when I looked up she was holding the keys out to me. She had been waiting for me to look up.
“Sorry. Thanks.” I was sweating which I only realized after some drops rubbed off on her hand as I took the keys.
“Sorry,” I said lamely.
“No problem. You are pretty strong. We had these two burly ex-football players carrying all that stuff in there for us and they were complaining about their backs.” She smiled. Was she messing with me?
“Yes, but it was my boss’ out of shape husband and his just as round brother. High school football. Plus they were really old.” She gave a laugh through her nose that sounded like a sneeze. So it was a Mrs. Del and not Mr.
“Thanks, I think.” I half smiled.
“Yeah it was a compliment. I’m Roslyn by the way. I’ll see you in geography tomorrow, Xavier.” Then she walked back toward the building. I turned and watched her through the car windows so she would not know I was looking. But she had to be weird working in a place that sold cauldrons. Mom walked out as Roslyn got to the door. They said something to each other, but this time I was too far away to hear. I heaved myself off the bumper before Mom saw me and slammed the trunk closed.
“What happened to dog grooming?” I asked as I got in the car.
“Too messy.” She answered, and paused then said, “Don’t tell your dad I bought this yet,” Mom announced as she drove us home.
“OK. So what career is this?” I did not even try to keep the sarcasm out my voice.
“Not a career. A hobby.” She answered firmly.
Mom never had hobbies. When she went for something, she went in all or nothing. Jean was right, Mom was acting strange. But at least she had remembered to wear a scarf today.