My Eleven Friends

Hey hey hey! I’m back! :) Well, at least for a little while.

Yesterday I had my first ever NaNoWriMo Write-In with some other participants. It was fun, distracting though. I now know that I write well alone. :) We showed up around three fifteen, set up our computers, I tried to make coffee but failed, and someone brought fabulous brownies.

It was hard to focus, because we were also juggling ideas.

“What’s the a good reason to relocate a whole family?”

“What should I name the deceased?”

“What’s the most known last name you can think of?”

We finished up around five thirty. I’d written somewhere around 2200 words, putting me a day ahead of Nano schedule. Last night after the party I closed out around two days ahead. I’m trying to write double what I have to every day so I can finish early.

Anyhow…

This post isn’t called My Eleven Friends because I had this write-in with eleven friends. “My Eleven Friends” is the name of my NaNo novel. It’s been a lot of fun to write. I’m describing it as “Fabulously boring,” because it’s one of those novels where nothing earth-shattering happens but it’s still a page-turner. At least, that’s what one of my beta-readers told me. It’s nice when someone tells you they don’t want to stop reading your book. :)

So, here’s a small excerpt from it. Enjoy! And happy sunday. :)

I grabbed the Maitre de’s sleeve and asked him to take a picture of us.

It was a Kodak Insta-matic, and so it spit out a gray square. Mom took the square, thanked the Maitre de, and as we were led to the table, she grabbed a toothpick, shaking the photograph. We sat down at our table and ordered a bottle of sparkling apple cider.

After we ordered our meals, Mom showed me the photograph, fully developed. In gray, firm strokes at the top of the picture, she had drawn a square. In the center of the square it said “Mg.” At the bottom corner, it said 12.

“Magnesium?” I guessed. She nodded.

“The twelfth element. Strong but light. Flammable if mishandled.”

“Why Magnesium?” I asked, although I had an idea, but I wanted to hear her talk.

“You’re twelve right now,” said Mom. “So, naturally, it would be the twelfth element that I would pick for you. You have a strong character but don’t take things too seriously. And also, you’re at a point in life when anything could go in any direction. Or believe anything. Or disregard anything. You’re kind of flammable.” She beamed.

“So on my next birthday, I’ll be Element thirteen,” I said.

“Which is one month away,” Mom reminded me.

I didn’t know what element 13 was but I knew it would be something good. Or at least, Mom would make it sounds like something good.

We, of course, had spaghetti and meatballs because neither of us can speak Italian so couldn’t find anything else we knew we would like. Our waiter was a fifteen-year-old, pimply redhead who was awkward with a bottle of sparkling cider. The spaghetti was, again, passable, like the ice cream at that diner which we’d forgotten the name of.

We left the restaurant, and by now we were in the city so we left our beetle in the parking lot of the restaurant. We strolled up and down the streets in the dark, with the lights overhead. shining down through the moths that congregated around the rusting bulbs.

We window shopped, Mom went into the bridal shop “Just for fun,” she said. I think she was getting lonely. I thought it might be a bit quick for her to be thinking of getting married again. So I asked her, because that’s the kind of person I was.

“Mom, you’re not going to get married again? It’s only been a couple months.”

Mom laughed sadly. “No, no, Will…I’m not planning, I’m just looking back.” She fingered the train of a white gown. “I’m just remembering.”

I remembered pictures of their wedding. Mom wasn’t wearing a white dress, she was wearing a light, uplifting pink. Dad had opted out of wearing a black tuxedo, because he thought it was “Unnecessarily depressing.” He had a dark green de-branded army uniform. I imagined them standing there at the altar, facing the photographer as everyone in the seats also turned to look at the photographer. It turns out, the picture wasn’t taken by the photographer, it was a guest who turned up late and happened to have a camera with him. As soon as he snapped a photograph of the happy couple, the rest of the guests turned around to see what was going on. He snapped another one. It so outshone the photographer’s shots that they used it as their official wedding photograph from then on. Dad’s smile was so square, so cheerful. I kept the photograph in my wallet. The dark green and light pink complemented each other so well.

When we were done in the bridal boutique, we stepped out into the warm air. It was May now and starting to warm up. The trees were budding.

We went through all the shops uptown and nodded at the other happy nightcrawling families.

“Will,” said Mom, “I think people might think we’re a couple pretty soon. You’re getting to be almost as tall as me.”

I measured up to my Mom. Our shoulders nearly reached now. She was a short woman by nature, so I didn’t have far to go. But she was right. I was growing.

We finished the night by standing outside the window of the TV room, and watched the newscasters talk about President Clinton’s ending term. We waved at the camera, and I hoped Rob would see me. But, I remembered his family didn’t watch television.

In December I’ll be polishing the story up. Is anyone else participating in NaNoWriMo?

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